Dave Devey thrives while being a little bit off the radar. He’s run his Falcon Camp in rural Carrollton, Ohio — a 90-minute drive west of Pittsburgh — that way since 1984.
“We’re a traditional, old-school overnight camp for boys and girls ages 6 to 16,” Devey told the Chronicle. “We’re small by design, so we provide more individual care and instruction to the campers —summer camp’s about more than just hitting the target in archery.”
People flock from throughout Pittsburgh to Falcon Camp — Devey joked his clientele includes families from Squirrel Hill to Cranberry — and he says they keep coming because it’s such a personalized experience.
“We’re in the woods, and we like it that way,” Devey laughed. “We’re not tents and outhouses, but we’re also not a country club. When we go hiking in the woods, we’re hiking in the woods.”
“If you don’t spend a lot of time outdoors, it’s a great first-time experience,” he added.
Organizations like Falcon Camp, which starts at $1,800 a week for younger kids, are big on showing Pittsburghers that they have a lot of options when it comes to summer camp for kids.
Take Assemble, a STEAM-themed camp on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood. Assemble serves children from first through ninth grade, and runs this year from June 20 through the week of Aug. 7. The day camp includes some field trips to places like Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium, according to Dale Gaddes, the camp’s marketing and development manager.
At Assemble, kids can combine a love for both coding and literature — one group of campers created coded robots to recite Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet,” Gaddes said. There also are lots of activities related to architecture and crypto-zoology.
And what, exactly, do kids do with crypto-zoology?
“It’s like combining zoology and fantasy,” said Gaddes, who added that some groups have recycled and sewn new body parts and features onto animal-themed stuffed animals.
“[Assemble] is really good for the kid who’s nerdy, artsy, not into being outside and doing sports all day,” Gaddes said.
Weekday camps at Assemble run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with optional before- and after-care extending hours to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., she said.
Does your child love the outdoors? Venture Outdoors has their number.
The Pittsburgh-based nonprofit is offering eight weeks of summer camp in three local parks for kids in first through 12th grade, according to Lo Zemanek, Venture Outdoors’ director of youth education.
“Venture Outdoors summer camps are great for kids who are born outdoor enthusiasts, and for those just dipping their toe into the outdoors,” Zemanek said. “Our camps are perfect for kids who want a chance to make new friends and learn new skills.”
Venture Outdoors “believes in the power of nature and wants your child to experience the fun, excitement and benefits of being outside this summer,” she added.
These week-long day camps will run this summer in South Park, North Park and Millvale Riverfront Park. Activities include kayaking, biking, geocaching, fishing, hiking, STEM experiments, teambuilding and more. Camp themes range from “Cycling through Summer,” “Summer on the Water” and even “Junior Explorers” for the youngest campers. PJC
Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.